• Ten-25

Do we really need to be deskbound?

Our MD Ian Oldrey has been considering the pros and cons of a desk-free work life…

I was reminded of this when we started to look at mobile computing. Since the mass adoption of the personal computer in the 1980s, we have worked at a desk with a computer to get the most from the data available for our businesses. Not many of us have desks that don’t have a desktop or laptop buzzing away. But do we work at a desk because that is where our computer is, or is something else keeping us there? Tablets and smartphones are starting to give us all the information, and most of the usability, of our PCs in a device which is connected online, has a working battery life and can work around us, rather than us having to go to it. So as I sit at my desk writing this article I have to wonder why I feel obliged to work here, rather than choosing a more interesting location.

Yesterday the temperature rose into the mid 30s, and sitting at my desk I realised I could be answering the same calls and emails, working on the same spreadsheets, and accessing my UniTrade 360 system from under the shaded branches of a tree in the park. But I didn’t get up and head out, instead feeling a nagging sense that if I wasn’t at my desk I wasn’t properly working. Maybe the time has come to break free from our desks, to find new, useful, inspiring locations to work from? Where you have a business with a yard, warehouse or shop might there be more value from being out with the action, over staying in a back office? Even if you need a sales team working as a group together, could desks be switched for sofas or picnic tables, now we can hold all the information needed in one hand?

Mobile computing is certainly changing the retail experience. Buying something from an Apple store is a revolutionary, if slightly disconcerting experience – walk in, pick up the headphones you want, purchase them through the Apple Store App on your phone and walk out with them. I am not advocating a Builders’ Merchant where customers just wander in and walk off with whatever they want, but mobile computing could open ways of working that make sitting at a desk as outdated as sending a fax.

Every new advance in technology looks like it might change everything we do, and eventually settles into its natural place in the world. As mobile computing in business starts to work for us, let’s let it guide us to some new ways of working, and be open to new perspectives and ideas, and not just shoehorn it into the way we have always worked.

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